EPL PIX: Chelsea rally in dramatic draw with Liverpool

IMAGES from the English Premier League matches played on Sunday

New Chelsea coach Mauricio Pochettino saw the team he rebuilt in the close season fight back to draw 1-1 at home to Liverpool in their Premier League opener on Sunday as debutant defender Axel Disasi cancelled out Luis Diaz’s strike.

In a meeting of two of last season’s heavyweight flops, Diaz threatened to ruin Pochettino’s first competitive match in charge of the Blues when the Colombian stretched out a boot to turn in a defence-splitting pass by Mohamed Salah in the 18th minute as the visitors attacked with lightening speed.

Liverpool thought they had doubled their lead just over 10 minutes later but Salah was judged to have been offside before he put the ball past goalkeeper Robert Sanchez, one of four debutants in Chelsea’s starting lineup.

The hosts weathered the storm and equalised in the 37th when Liverpool failed to clear a corner and France international Disasi — signed this month from AS Monaco — swept the ball home from close range after a looping Ben Chilwell header.

Two minutes later Chilwell rounded goalkeeper Alison Becker to put ball in the net but VAR ruled he was offside.

Chelsea dominated possession after the break but failed to get a second goal. A deflected shot by substitute Darwin Nunez then almost won it for Liverpool in the dying moments.

Argentine Pochettino — who coached Chelsea’s London rivals Tottenham Hotspur from 2014 to 2019 and won Ligue 1 with Paris Saint-Germain in 2022 — promised Chelsea fans “an enjoyable style of football” in his programme notes on Sunday and the Stamford Bridge crowd applauded the team off the pitch.

That represented a sharp contrast to the gloom that enveloped the Blues last season when they fired managers Thomas Tuchel and Graham Potter and then suffered their worst Premier League finish since 1994, finishing in 12th place.

As well as Disasi with his goal, fellow debutant Nicolas Jackson, a striker signed from Villarreal, stretched Liverpool — although he also spurned some chances — while academy graduate Levi Colwill, also on his first competitive Chelsea start, recovered from a testing opening period to thwart Salah.

Liverpool coach Juergen Klopp also gave first starts to new midfielders Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai.

Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, the subject of speculation regarding a transfer to Real Madrid, was not even on the bench.

Spurs start post-Kane era with draw at Brentford

Tottenham Hotspur gave new manager Ange Postecoglou a rollercoaster Premier League debut when they started life after Harry Kane with a 2-2 draw in their opening game at Brentford on Sunday.

New signing James Maddison, taking on departed captain Kane’s number 10 shirt, pulled the strings in midfield and provided two assists as Spurs took the lead, fell behind and came back for a point with all the goals in a lively first half.

Cristian Romero headed the visitors in front in the 11th minute, after a long VAR check for possible offside that contributed to the 11 minutes time added on in the first half, with the ball whipped in by Maddison from a free kick.

Postecoglou, who arrived in July as the replacement for Antonio Conte and is the first Australian to manage in the Premier League, took Romero off immediately after the VAR decision despite the player’s obvious reluctance to leave.

The centre-back had earlier been caught in a clash of heads and received medical attention.

Bryan Mbeumo equalised 15 minutes later from the penalty spot after Son Heung-Min, taking over from Kane as captain, fouled Mathias Jensen.

The South Korean had an otherwise quiet afternoon and was substituted in the second half while striker Richarlison was even less visible.

The Bees were 2-1 up in the 36th after a Yoane Wissa shot went in off Dutch defender Micky van de Ven, a new arrival from German side Wolfsburg.

Tottenham, who said farewell to Kane when the club’s record scorer signed for Bayern Munich on Saturday, then made it 2-2 in first-half stoppage time when Emerson Royal lashed in a pass from Maddison.

Brentford, also missing a main man from last season with England striker Ivan Toney banned until January for 232 breaches of the betting rules, looked lively and proved once again that they are hard to beat at home.

Brentford, who finished ninth last season and one place behind Tottenham, beat Spurs 3-1 in their previous encounter at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium last May, with Kane scoring for the hosts.

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